In 1957, the Ford Ranchero introduced the Australian-style coupe utility segment to the U.S. market. While the 1957 Ranchero was essentially a two-door wagon with the roof aft of the B-pillar removed, it offered the comfort of a sedan with the payload of a half-ton pickup. GM responded two years later in the U.S. with the full-size 1959 Chevrolet El Camino. After taking a look at our Motor Trend Classic comparison story, we want to know: Which utility truck would you rather drive?
“The Ranchero gives the room and ‘personal’ feel of a Thunderbird, the comfort of a sedan and the load-carrying capacity of a small pickup,” said Motor Trend’s Walt Woron after testing the new 1957 Ranchero in our April 1957 issue. During our recent comparison we concluded that “The 1957 Ford Ranchero is a time machine that gives us a glimpse back at a uniquely optimistic and inventive era of American automobile styling. But in its day, the idiosyncratic car-truck also pointed to a new direction of one-size-fits-all design that resonates with contemporary consumers.”
In our March 1959 issue, Motor Trend reviewed the El Camino: “Chevrolet’s El Camino sports high styling of the passenger-car line, yet provides space for a 1030-pound load. It should prove a hot competitor to Ford’s Ranchero during 1959.” After driving a mildly hot-rodded 1959 El Camino in our recent story, we said, “The El Camino is a sport/utility vehicle that a hot rodder can love without reservation. By combining the outlandish styling of the ’50s with the usefulness of a shop truck, the El Camino is a parts chaser par excellence, yet perfectly adequate around town or on the car show circuit.”
The Ford Ranchero departed from the U.S. in the 1970s during the fuel crisis, while the El Camino lived on until the end of the GM’s rear-drive G-body chassis in 1987. While both models had roots in Australia (1934 for Ford and 1951 for GM), similar vehicles live on Down Under from Ford and Holden as utes.
Vote in our poll below to tell us whether you would choose the stylish Ranchero or the flashy El Camino. Read the comparison story here.
By Jason Udy